The Rise of the Aesthetics of Decline is coming

Christian Viveros-Faune : art critic, curator
Neo Povera. Realism 2.0. The New Social. Whatever you want to call it, the new global art movement signals the start of a hugely salutary if still uncertain fusion of ethics and aesthetics. An international mix of art and activism across various media, this new current often goes out on a limb to score political points. (Witness Cuban artist Tania Bruguera's ongoing Immigrant Movement International project—an actual incorporated political party—being "performed" throughout 2012, somewhere in Corona, Queens.)

Although artists have been representing social inequities since way before Romare Bearden collaged views of Harlem in the 1970s (the artist's centennial exhibition continues at the Studio Museum until September 2), this genuinely new kind of practice promises far more hands-on civic engagement. Local precursors include New York's John Ahearn (whose plaster casts of his Bronx neighbors have proved provocative public sculpture) and the AIDS-era radicals Gran Fury. (Their combative survey opens January 31 at NYU's 80 Washington Square East Galleries.)

But the phenomenon's most urgent exemplars today reside far outside the five boroughs. While the majority of New York artists now scratch their heads about unpaid T-Mobile bills and the depressing reality of a crap economy, Ai Weiwei risks his neck for free speech in Beijing, and the Moscow art collective Voina fights court battles to defend their trashing of a Russian police car as art (true story).

article: "Three Predictions About the Near Future of Art"